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SugarCon speaker reveals 10 reasons why social CRM projects fail

Culture issues and lack of compliance policies are just two of the factors that work against social CRM, according to one speaker at this week's SugarCon conference.

Ten reasons why social CRM projects fail, at a glance

1. Wrong culture

2. No compliance policy

3. No established goals

4. Lack of managerial support

5. Insufficient staffing

6. Unwilling to listen to customers

7. Can't effectively respond to customers

8. Poor internal communication

9. No plan for key influencers

10. No progress reports

Source: David Myron

NEW YORK -- It seems like everyone is talking about how valuable social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be for reaching out to customers, addressing their concerns, hearing their feedback and providing support. But many organizations' social CRM efforts are falling far short of success, and the consequences of such failures may be more serious than some realize, according to David Myron, editorial director of CRM Magazine and a speaker at this week's SugarCon 2013 conference.

"If you're not on social media, then you are not able to promote and protect your brand," Myron told a roomful of SugarCon attendees. "If you are, but you're not committed to it, you're also not able to promote and protect your brand effectively."

Myron -- who based his findings and advice on surveys and research conducted by his editorial team, as well as IT analyst firms -- went on to explain the top 10 reasons why social CRM projects fail.

1. Wrong organizational culture
Research shows that one of the biggest barriers to getting started with social CRM is a lack of knowledge. Employees may not know what social media tools are available or the organization's policies on social CRM. Other obstacles to entry include a lack of support and fear of losing control of customer interactions. Companies suffering from these symptoms should work to change their culture before proceeding with social CRM, according to Myron.

"Companies are afraid of losing control over that [customer] relationship," he said. "Well, the reality of it is that you're going to lose [control] if you choose to engage them or not. You can't stay in the past and think you have to control everything. Because of social media, customers are going to talk about you whether you like it or not."

2. No compliance policy
One of the best ways to begin getting the organizational culture right for social CRM is to establish a compliance policy with regard to employee activities on social media sites. The policy should set clear guidelines for employee behavior and brand messaging. The idea is to ensure the organization's brand is consistently represented in a professional manner.

Myron said it's a good idea to bring together a group of representatives from marketing, IT and the legal team to craft the policy. And once it's created, be sure to clearly communicate it to employees early and often.

3. No established focus or goals
It's impossible to measure success if an organization isn't clear on what it's shooting for, according to Myron. That's why it's important to set clear goals before embarking on a social CRM initiative. Goals for social CRM might include promoting and protecting a brand name, building relationships, providing customer support, improving sales leads, supporting a community and sending out regular product alerts.

"You've got to measure -- and not only measure -- but share your results across the enterprise," Myron said.

4. Lack of managerial support
To identify and then communicate social CRM goals, an organization needs support from  management --  and that support must be more than lip service. Management must actually be willing to make the changes necessary to achieve social CRM success. That might mean new hires, new training and allocating more resources. Management should also make an effort to communicate any successes or wins that happen as the project unfolds.

"Share successes and you'll increase enthusiasm across your enterprise," Myron said. "And when it's time for that [next] department to go live with social, they'll be more willing to do it because they've already seen successes."

5. Insufficient staffing

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Companies interested in social CRM will oftentimes take the easy way out and appoint one or two employees in marketing, or some employees with customer-facing jobs, to lead the effort. That's fine for companies that are just experimenting, but companies that are serious about making a long-term commitment should appoint a full-fledged social media team. The team should be tasked with figuring out what skills and resources are available in-house and what needs to be brought in from the outside.

"If you don't have enough of those skills sets you need to hire them, train [people] and compensate fairly," Myron said.

6. Unwilling to listen to customers
Organizations embarking on social CRM must be willing to listen carefully to customers' comments regardless of whether they are positive or negative. Both types of comments are inevitable. If a customer brings up a problem with a product or service-- and it's a real problem -- then the organization should own up to it in a timely fashion and clearly explain what will be done about it.

"Be as open and transparent as possible," Myron said.

7. Failure to effectively respond to customers
Customers on social media sites often know the brands they are talking about very well, and they often have good ideas. It's important to hear those ideas, single out the good ones and -- most importantly -- act on them. Organizations should be willing to change their products and services based on customer feedback. When a customer brings up a problem on a social media site like Facebook and the problem is resolved, it's a good idea to go back to the discussion thread and close the loop. Otherwise, Myron said, it will look like someone raised a concern that was never resolved.

8. Poor internal communication
The importance of proper communication can't be stressed enough, according to Myron. Some organizations tend to listen only to the negative comments on social media sites and communicate them throughout the organization as a call to action. But organizations should also share positive statements that are made about their brands. Such communications can improve employee morale and give companies an idea of where to focus product development. Positive comments can also come in handy when supporting and guiding sales and marketing operations.

9. No plan for key influencers or advocates
Every brand has its biggest fans -- and sometimes those fans have great influence over social media communities. According to Myron, companies should reward the key influencers in their customer community by sharing test samples and plans for the future, as well as offering people the chance to provide feedback on upcoming products or services. But be mindful of consumers who are only interested in discounts or freebies. Instead, look for true fans of the products who can offer genuine insights.

10. No progress reports
Companies undertaking a social CRM initiative need to continually measure results against pre-set goals and objectives and make adjustments to the strategy as needed. It's also a good idea to perform a gap analysis that shows where the social CRM initiative stands today and where the organization wants it to go tomorrow.

"If you don't track your results you have no way to measure, no way to manage and no way to improve upon what you're doing," Myron said. "You need to move out of that experimentation stage and invest in the proper tools -- and that could be a social media monitoring tool."

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